Recent lockdown measures and self-isolation has given many young freelance journalists and filmmakers time to contemplate on how this pandemic is affecting their craft. Fledgling journalists embarking on careers in this competitive industry will be affected the most.
Renowned UK publisher Reach Plc. has informed journalists to work remotely, but with the new academic due to start in September and the summer giving aspiring students to gain valuable experience, this approach is not without its difficulties.
Enter Nightcrawler (2014) – a masterpiece for creative freelancers who feel lost in this world of zero contact hours, grasping to gather scraps of work for their portfolio.
Jake Gyllenhaal is on-point with his character portrayal of Lou Bloom and the world his dark story is set in, justifying its award for original screenplay. Nightcrawler keeps true to Los Angeles’ identity as an “every man for himself” world, a mirror reflection of Hollywood and the media which is seen throughout the film and carries the story to its end.
Lou (Gyllenhaal) stumbles across how the news is made and soon makes his way as a fraud, showing everyone he is a legitimate cameraman until the day he actually becomes one. Through this element of corruption (which is the media now), especially the limbo that L.A. creates for itself, the story shows that there is only one chance of making it big, because there is no other way in – and Lou perfectly mirrors every ego that a journalist or filmmaker needs today, regardless of the ethical horrors and selfishness.
Nighcrawler resonates with the phrase ‘get your foot in the door’. Lou ultimately picks up a camera and starts filming, keeping his adrenaline and ambition pumping with his text book business knowledge we all roll our eyes at, until it becomes relevant in the blood bath of success.
Things only start to get worse with the film’s realistic directing, more specifically the scene on the Hollywood hills at the car crash. Lou’s contemplation and demise over his choice on moving the dead body creates a visceral feeling and positions you in the moment with him. With all things a filmmaker and journalist shouldn’t do regarding sensitivity and ethics, Lou walks all over it for his pay check.
No one finds out about his numerous accounts of law breaking shots and street savage methods and even is able to defend himself over his investigate footage from the CSI. Nightcrawler provokes a series of thoughts over his actions and mind set, but the film manages to bring us back to Lou and his makeshift ways. The film places the audience with Lou all the way through and becomes difficult to get away from his corrupt success, hence why we would be guilty in shunning his successful breakthrough.
This film shows the reality of the closed doors of the media and the hardships of making a name for your self in the industry. The lengths Lou goes to to get his pay check is a call out to what it takes to get into show business. This further contrasts Lou’s intern Rick (Riz Ahmed). Even though we sympathise for his poverty stricken lifestyle and the fact his minority background should be a reason why he should be the winning character, his complaining attitude and lack of appreciation really boils your blood – another factor showing we support Lou in his oblivious success story; an invisible prison of guilt the audience can’t get out off.
Nightcrawler couldn’t have aligned more perfectly with today’s economic struggle and unemployable surrounding coronavirus, let alone the constant struggle to make it into show business and journalism. Aside from the thriller elements, set to make the viewer cringe, the film is a warped ‘bible’ for ruthless freelancers.
It is inevitable that many practical writers and filmmakers will not be able to gain the experience they need to take the next steps in their career, but one thing this pandemic and film will teach us is that you need to be your own boss and get your game on, because there’ll always be that other camera man or writer who has the same idea as you, and the world won’t stop for anyone, even in lockdown.